Pokémon Go will today adjust the various gameplay changes introduced back in March in the face of the global pandemic. Some are being removed, some are being maintained, and some will seemingly be made permanent.
Most noticeably, hatch distance will return to normal for eggs – meaning you’ll need to walk the full 2km, 5km, 7km or 10km. This distance was halved back in the spring.
Eggs – or rather, their incubators – are a key source of income for Pokémon Go. On the upside, their current contents are currently of little interest to long-term players. On the downside, you only need another incubator-focused in-game event to roll around for this to suddenly change.
Other changes being removed include the buff to Incense, which spawns a Pokémon wherever you are. This will now only offer its increased effectiveness when you are walking. Additionally, Buddy Pokémon will now only bring you PokéStop gifts once a day. Gifts will no longer be guaranteed from PokéStops.
Other lockdown changes will remain, and some sound like they’re being made permanent.
The ability to hold 20 gifts, to receive triple Stardust/XP for your first catch of the day and for Incense to last 60 minutes all sound like they will become full additions.
Meanwhile, other temporary changes such as the ability to play in the Go Battle League without walking, send invitations to raids while playing remotely, and the increased PokéStop and Gym radius will “remain implemented for the foreseeable future”.
Pokémon Go has changed a lot this year – such as with the introduction of remote raiding, and its first global Go Fest event – to adapt to everything going on in 2020. These lockdown bonuses have always been listed as temporary, and have been renewed every 30 days.
It seems likely many were not intended to be in effect for this long. Still, many fans have questioned why the changes are happening now, with no end to the global pandemic in sight.
“When possible, people are generally encouraged to spend time outside, go on walks, and exercise for their mental and physical health-all while social distancing and abiding by other health and safety recommendations,” developer Niantic wrote in a blog post on the changes.
“Additionally, we’re continuously monitoring the ever-evolving global situation and are working hard to reschedule previously planned live events to 2021. Health and safety are of the utmost importance. Please stay tuned to our official channels for any rescheduling updates.”
While Niantic had not announced any live events for the second half of 2020, last year’s schedule included ticketed Safari Zone meetups in various cities, as well as global event days for specific Pokémon. It’s been a while since we’ve heard about the next one of those.
It’s noticeable Pokémon Go has been quietly avoiding events which encourage large groups together, such as raid days. Invite-only EX Raids remain cancelled, with no word at all on their return in this latest update. Community Days, meanwhile, continue to offer no bonuses to lure items, which brought groups of players together in public spaces.
The remainder of 2020 is expected to bring in the first Generation 6 Pokémon, more Mega creatures (and hopefully more changes to their rollout and implementation) and Pokémon Home integration. Team Rocket boss Giovanni is also due a return.